Rory McIlroy wins DP World Championship in a classic final day duel with Andy Sullivan and in doing so has topped the European Tour's Race To Dubai standings for the third time

Rory McIlory has been crowned Europe’s number one for a third time. On an action-packed final day here at the Earth Course at Jumerirah Golf Estates in Dubai, the Northern Irishman shot a stunning final round 66 to defeat England’s Andy Sullivan by a single shot. This was McIlroy’s 12th European Tour win in his 155th event and the second time he has taken the DP World Championship title.

Winning the tournament was the only way McIlroy could be sure of capturing the European Tour’s Race To Dubai standings, so close was Danny Willett behind the Northern Irishman going into the event. But beating Rory McIlroy around the Earth Course (where he has never finished outside the top 11), was the tallest of orders. True to form, McIlroy came good during a captivating final round duel with England’s Andy Sullivan.

Sullivan started the final round on 16 under par – one shot ahead of McIlroy. It quickly turned into a two horse race with the leaders throwing birdie after birdie at each other throughout the front nine. This was turning into a desert classic.

Sullivan was underlining his credentials by keeping pace with a rampant McIlroy. Each time his long game let him down, Sullivan was able to call upon a nerveless short game to bail him out. The huge crowd responded to Sullivan’s efforts and McIlroy knew he had a fight on his hands. And fight, he did – four birdies in the middle of the back nine gave McIlroy a two shot lead playing the treacherous 17th. Indeed, a poor tee shot at the par 3 found the water and for brief spell a play-off looked the kost likely outcome. But the 26-year-old showed his class holing a monster putt for a bogey that gave him a one shot lead with one to play. Both players made pars at the last leaving the title and 1.2 million Euro winner’s cheque in the hands of Rory McIlroy.

Danny Willett’s valiant attempt to overhaul the former world number one in the end of season rankings (he finished in a tie for fourth with a final round 70), leaves him as a very strong contender for Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team. So too Andy Sullivan who alongside McIlroy is the only player to have won three times on the European Tour this season.

For McIlroy himself, his triumphant return to Dubai puts an emphatic full stop to a frustrating season blighted by injury. In winning the European Tour’s moneylist from just 12 events, he has added his own success story to a season largely dominated by the achievements of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. His decision not to quit the European Tour has already born fruit.